Salt water has been used over countless generations by a variety of cultures as a teeth cleaning aid for mouth rinses and to clean cuts and wounds. Salt has preserving as well as antibacterial properties when applied in plentiful amounts to foods but it is still not clear how it combats microbes when dissolved in water.
Salt water changes the pH of your mouth, inhibiting the reproduction of bacteria. However, it does not completely clear out microorganisms. Perhaps what makes it most popular is the fact that is soothes the lining of your mouth and provides considerably relief with toothaches. Talk to your dentist about how a salt water rinse may be beneficial for you.
Benefits of Salt Water to your Dental Hygiene
Raw salt restricts the growth of bacteria in many foods and preserves due to its ability to absorb water. Since bacteria require moisture to thrive, taking away significant amounts of water can inhibit their growth.
Note that this isn’t the reason that makes salt water an antiseptic solution because it’s actually giving water to the bacteria and does not kill them directly on contact. However, a 2003 paper published in the “British Dental Journal” showed that salt water rinses are beneficial for dental health because they temporarily increase the pH or alkalize the mouth, thereby deterring bacterial growth, as bacteria prefer growing in acidic environments.
In addition, salt water is isotonic and does not irritate the lining of the inside of the mouth. This is the main reason dentists recommend flushing with warm salt water following dental procedures.
Salt water is a great soothing remedy for those with gum sores, mouth ulcers or those who have recently had a dental procedure. Note that salt water rinses are not substitutes to modern dental hygiene products but you can use them to supplement your dental care regimen.
Salt water rinses also promote healing which is why your dentist might recommend using it 24 hours after a minor dental surgery. Salt water isn’t as irritating as certain medicinal mouthwashes, which makes it a great option for those who only require a gentle healing aid.
How to make a salt water rinse
Making a salt water rinse is quite straight forward. Simply mix ½ tsp. of salt with one cup of water. Gargle thoroughly and spit the liquid out without swallowing it.
Although salt water rinses come with a plethora of benefits, they should not be used as a replacement for your regular oral care products, such as toothpaste and mouthwashes.